It’s hard to believe that someone could live like this in an airport, but The Terminal is reportedly based off Mehran Karimi Nasseri, an Iranian refugee who lived in a Paris airport for seventeen years. I didn’t much care for The Terminal the first time I saw it. I thought it was entertaining enough, but that the whole reason behind Viktor’s stay at the airport was weak. For him to go through so much inconvenience for the sake of a jazz musician’s autograph just didn’t seem worth it to me and was somewhat underwhelming, especially since his relationship with Amelia didn’t endure for long either.
But, mainly due to my VC’s further viewing, I gave it another shot and recognized many things to appreciate, despite the lackluster ending. Tom Hanks turns in yet another masterful acting job, speaking Bulgarian and displaying the same innocence and unlikely luck as Forrest Gump. His pathetic scenes early on, such as making a sandwich out of saltines and ketchup, instill sympathy for the character and his plight, and the clever ways he deals with the situation may be improbable but make him even more likable. Stanley Tucci is also skillful as the by-the-book jerk who tries to both get Viktor out and keep him in, and Catherine Zeta-Jones is lovely as Amelia, though her character’s arc isn’t really satisfying.
Viktor’s daily interactions with the airport employees make it reminiscent of a “meet ‘em and move on” film, and Zoe Saldana plays an unrealistically wedded Trekkie, unintentionally foreshadowing her involvement in the Star Trek reboot. Steven Spielberg lets the story flow effortlessly, and John Williams’s score is one of his under-appreciated gems. Borders may have gone out of business, but its signs and the plentitude of other product placement make the airport feel quite realistic.
The film may have several scenes that don’t quite pull off the drama they’re attempting (the “goat” medicine standoff, Gupta’s sacrifice), but it skillfully exhibits some of the ridiculous regulations of bureaucracy. Also, even if the signatures in the can may seem trivial to me, the promise to his father certainly meant a lot to Viktor so I’d say the end is more effective than I had first thought. Overall, The Terminal is a lesser Tom Hanks treasure that excels in its characterization and makes living in an airport an admirable thing.
Best line: (Viktor, to Enrique, after being unable to pronounce the word “cheat”) “She’s a nice… nice girl; she won’t take your chitting.”Artistry: 8 Characters/Actors: 9 Entertainment: 9 Visual Effects: N/A Originality: 9 Watchability: 9 TOTAL: 44 out of 60
Next: #177 – Castle in the Sky
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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